After checking on family and friends in the Queensland danger zones, I now turn to a question that has arisen in several forums over the last day or two – “but this is what underdeveloped countries are facing constantly, and they don’t have the infrastructures in place to respond as we do.”
On this day, the first anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, it is indeed sobering to reflect that many on that island still await shelter, health facilities and a reliable conduit of basic supplies. Months afterwards, unimaginable numbers of flood victims in Pakistan still live out of inundated homes, unable to sow crops and access food aid. These countries have suffered high profile natural disasters over the last 12 months,but even they are not the final word on where the world’s compassion in the form of practical aid requires focus. 2010 saw regions around the globe affected by earthquake, tsunami, volcano eruption, extreme storm activity, mudslides, famine, wildfire and inundation – all needing response regardless of local capacity to do so. In many cases, resources beyond the local community were required and we responded to the extent that motivation and capacity allowed.
However, the Queensland floods are unfolding now. The disaster is immediate and we are responding to it as it happens. As a nation we are collectively anxious and mindful for those of us who are suffering trauma, grief and uncertainty about an unimaginable juggernaut of water hurtling through some of our more populated areas. Last night my son and I saw the the movie “Unstoppable” about a runaway train. That’s what this seems like.
Sure an end is in sight, but we don’t know yet what that end looks like. We believe we are well resourced enough to rebuild through government infrastructure and community generosity and goodwill. We must, however, go through the process of coming to terms with the event, confronting its impact on us, grieving our losses, sharing our stories, and encouraging hope. To attend to our own battle and its wounding is not too ignore the plight of others. In Perth, right now, we have a community coming to terms with loss of homes and livelihood through bush-fires. There is enough room in the collective community heart to consider their trauma along with that of the flood survivors. Unless we are compassionate with ourselves and those next to us, we are shackled in the extent to which we can care for others.
So when I urge my church to pray for and give practical aid to Queensland flood relief, I don’t believe they will cease being mindful of those in global disaster prone areas. On the contrary, I believe our awareness will be enhanced.